Terramera raises USD $6M in seed funding and grows executive team
The capital will support the launch of and CEO hire for enrichAg, Terramera’s majority-owned subsidiary to commercialize soil analysis.
Today Terramera announced enrichAg, its subsidiary company focused on building tools to support soil health and corresponding funding. Terramera’s seed round was led by Silicon Valley-based climatetech VC firm At One Ventures with USD $6 million. Karn Manhas, CEO of Terramera, confirmed to Vancouver Tech Journal that Terramera has recently finalized the hiring of a new CEO for enrichAg, but could not share further details at this time.
The funding will support the launch of enrichAg’s first product, enrichSoil, a proprietary solution for soil analysis. Current methods take weeks for results, while this new product aims to provide real-time results in a matter of minutes. According to Terramera, EnrichSoil has already demonstrated results with 99 percent accuracy — relative to current methods which range from 40 to 60 percent accuracy.
Soil analysis is important for farmers to understand nutrient levels for sustainable food production and participation in the carbon credit marketplace. As nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are key elements of fertilizer, analysis of these nutrients can allow for optimal purchase and application of the input. In addition, the carbon credit marketplace can compensate farmers for the amount of carbon sequestered in their soils. Analysis of soil carbon can inform farmers’ participation in the marketplace.
Tom Chi, founding partner at At One Ventures, sees two key benefits to EnrichSoil’s technology over traditional methods of soil analysis. “Number one, the soil is being investigated in situ, which means that we haven't destroyed the biological and hydrological function,” he said. Typical practices take soil cores out of the ground and sent to a laboratory, where the samples are then baked for analysis with results in weeks. The second, Chi adds, is that EnrichSoil’s method gives rise to detailed information about molecular structures in the soil.
“[The products’s] technology is based on a novel sensor that first increases the resolution and accuracy, over 100 times more than anything that we've had before,” said Manhas. He adds that this new hardware is in line with advances in its software stack. “We've developed increases in software: machine learning, computational chemistry, and AI that is able to process that signal.”
This launch marks Terramera’s first significant private investment in the field of regenerative agriculture — a method of farming that prioritizes soil health. The company first launched in 2009 with a bedbug biopesticide and shifted industry focus into agriculture, eventually raising a USD $10 million Series A in 2016 and a USD $48.5 million Series B in 2019 under the premise of reducing synthetic pesticides via its proprietary technology.
A number of public announcements in recent years have indicated a shift in company interest towards regenerative agriculture, but the launch of enrichAg as a subsidiary is Terramera’s most notable measure. In 2020, the company proposed an extensive $730 million CAD plan for a Global Centre for Regenerative Agriculture in partnership with Microsoft. No investment updates have taken place since this announcement, and Kim Haakstad, vice president of stakeholder relations at Terramera confirmed to Vancouver Tech Journal that this project is on pause as the company pursues other business priorities. In 2021, according to LinkedIn, Terramera hired Sunshine Coast-based regenerative farmer and impact investor Brian Smith as vice president of regenerative finance, where his role focused on “building partnerships with financial institutions and investors looking to support nature-based solutions.” Smith’s term came to an end in October 2022.
Notably, past public investment has built the foundations for the launch of enrichAg. In 2021, the company was awarded CAD $7.9 million from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) to advance its soil carbon quantification technology. “This will provide a standard for consistent soil carbon quantification across Canada,” said the release, “opening a new and stable market for nature-based soil carbon credits and allowing farmers to be incentivized for the carbon they sequester.” In 2022, Terramera received CAD $1 million from the province’s Innovative Clean Energy fund, and a further CAD $2 million in investment from the federal government through its Agricultural Clean Technology Program.
Manhas sees a sizable future role for enrichAg in the carbon credit marketplace. “enrichSoil is enrichAg’s first product, it is faster, cheaper, more accurate soil analysis,” he said. “On that platform of soil analysis builds the trust for carbon markets for farmers.”
This is EnrichAg’s first close of seed funding. The venture looks to secure an additional USD $9 million in investment this quarter for a total seed round of USD $15 million.
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Amazing example of an initiative that is both intensely meaningful for the future of our planet and extremely practical in terms of commercial applications. Congrats to the Terramera team.